25th May 2017

With thoughts of the Westminster terrorist attack in March still etched on our minds, this week the nation is still coming to terms from the aftermath of yet another atrocity. On Monday evening 22 May 2017, the city of Manchester was the victim of what is believed to be a sole act of terrorism supported through a network of other accomplices. At the time of writing 22 people including children have lost their lives with over 60 hospitalised with serious injuries and the nation is left pondering the futility of such senseless brutality.

In response to the attack British Union Conference President Pastor Ian Sweeney stated:

"On behalf of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the British Isles our thoughts and prayers are extended to the victims and casualties of the terrorist attack in Manchester last night."

"As a community of faith, it is our belief that every person is of incalculable worth and value and so we mourn the tragic losses of life and more than this we are committed to doing all within our means to support and encourage those persons who have been so deeply impacted."

The territory of Manchester falls under the region of the North England Conference. Pastor Richard Jackson, the President of the Conference, in response stated:

"It is with sadness that I write to our family of faith as we reflect upon the tragic incident that took place in Manchester last evening. No doubt our communities across Britain and in particular the Greater Manchester area are in a state of shock and disbelief. At times like these we are asking our Seventh-day Adventist community in Manchester to come together and give whatever support is necessary. The churches will be opened for prayers and reflection and my pastors are available to those who need support in any way.

"I ask that all of our members across the field continue to pray for those affected in various ways, especially lifting up in prayer those who have lost loved ones as well as those who have been injured. As advocates of social justice, as human beings, this impacts us all and we no doubt must stand united against hate and remain committed to inclusivity, tolerance and love now more than ever."

Two local Seventh-day Adventist churches that worship close to the Manchester Arena are the Manchester South (Pastor Victor Marshall) and North Manchester (Pastor Daniel Ebeneezer) congregations. Both ministers are working together to provide on hand assistance to those who are traumatised by the whole event. Pastor Marshall will be opening his church for those who seek solitude and quiet prayer with refreshments and counsellors on hand. Pastor Ebeneezer whose church is nearer to the site of the attack has already informed his community of the services his church will provide during this time. This also includes opening the church to the community and providing ongoing counselling support.

In Birmingham, the Camp Hill church, is opening its doors to the community for a special service of remembrance and prayer on Sunday 28 May, 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm. Members are inviting neighbours and friends to join them for this special service.

SEC President Pastor Emmanuel Osei showed solidarity with his NEC ministerial counterparts by stating:

"On behalf of the South England Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, I would like to express our deepest sympathies to the families and people of Manchester who have experienced such a cowardly act that has left many families and friends grieving over the loss of loved ones.

"Our prayers and thoughts are with everyone affected in this tragedy and the South England Conference would support any action taken by our North England Conference counterparts to be of help to the victims and people of Manchester."

Trans-European Division President Pastor Raafat Kamal also shared his sympathies: "My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and my sympathy is with their families. What a horrible attack on what were mainly children and young people. There is no cause, political or religious, that justifies actions of senseless brutality, anywhere or at any time. I know our Adventist congregations, both locally in Manchester and across our territories, will be praying for those in sorrow on this dark journey of pain."

Adventist World Church President Elder Ted Wilson sent the following message: "Very sorry to hear of the 22 who lost their lives and 119 wounded in Manchester. What a tragedy that sinister elements are so brazen in their attacks on ordinary citizens. I have prayed for the people of Manchester, for the families who lost loved ones, for the wounded, and our church members who can be instruments of Total Member Involvement bringing encouragement and hope to the people of that grieving city. The hope of Christ's soon coming can bring great hope for the future."

As further details continue to emerge over the next few days sensitivities will be heightened and people will try to seek meaning to this senseless act. This Sabbath let us commit the families of the victims and the hurting nation to prayer for comfort and strength.

[Richard Daly]

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